TANEGASHIMA, Japan — Japan on Tuesday successfully launched an H-2A rocket carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, with the rocket later releasing the satellite as planned.
The optical reconnaissance satellite will be used for such purposes as monitoring developments at North Korean missile launch facilities, increasing the number of the nation’s intelligence-gathering satellites to seven.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. launched the H-2A F38 rocket from JAXA’s launch site in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The government is aiming to raise the number of reconnaissance satellites in operation to 10, consisting of radar and optical types.
The radar satellites, which are not affected by weather conditions and can see through clouds, are suited to take photos at night, while optical ones capture images of the ground as the human eye does.
The Japanese government does not reveal images captured by reconnaissance satellites, except for those taken at a time of natural disaster. When it releases data on disaster-hit areas, the government downgrades the image quality so as not to reveal the image-capturing capacity of the satellites.